Round 10 threw up some surprising Super Rugby results both in Australia and abroad.
Both the Brumbies and Reds clinched pivotal wins in South Africa while the Waratahs bested the Rebels in Sydney.
CHIEFS vs LIONS
Captain Warren Whiteley has underlined his influence and importance to the Lions, returning from a long-term injury to lead his side to a 23-17 Super Rugby victory over a fast-finishing Chiefs in Hamilton.
Whiteley had missed six games due to a muscle tear in his chest and the South Africans had not looked the same side who'd made the past three Super finals.
Carlu Sadie and winger Aphiwe Dyantyi scored tries on Friday for the Lions, who snuffed out any late comeback when Elton Jantjies slotted a 79th-minute drop goal.
Winger Sean Wainui, prop Nepo Laulala and replacement Tumua Manu scored tries in the last 20 minutes for the Chiefs, who only came alive in the final quarter after a 30-metre burst by scrumhalf Neil Weber had set up Wainui's try.
Virtually all of the Lions' first-half points had been due to the influence of tighthead prop Sadie, who constantly had his opposite Angus Ta'avao under pressure.
Ta'avao, normally at tighthead, had been forced to the loosehead side of the scrum due to an injury crisis at the Chiefs and also had trouble last week against the Blues.
Tries: Wainui, Laulala, Manu
Tries: Sadie, Dyantyi
Cons: Jantjies 2
SUNWOLVES vs HURRICANES
Wes Goosen scored a 68th-minute try as the Hurricanes battled back from a 13-point halftime deficit and kept the Sunwolves scoreless in the second spell to record a 29-23 Super Rugby victory in Tokyo on Friday.
TJ Perenara, Ben Lam, and Chase Tiatia also scored tries for the visitors, who rested three All Blacks for the clash and found the home side's frenetic style of play difficult to counteract.
The Hurricanes were also guilty of far too many missed tackles, turnovers, errors and indiscretions, but managed to finally exert some control in the second half.
Semisi Masirewa scored two tries for the home side, while flyhalf Hayden Parker converted both tries and slotted three penalties to build a 23-10 lead by halftime .
But the Sunwolves were unable to add to their score in the second half.
Tries: Masirewa 2
Cons: Parker 2
Pens: Parker 3
Tries: Perenara, Lam, Tiatia, Goosen
Cons: F Smith
Pens: F Smith
SHARKS vs REDS
Reds coach Brad Thorn says his team's hoodoo-busting win in Durban has given a glimpse of the future possible as Queensland continues a promote-from-within culture.
Queensland broke a 15-year drought in Durban when they beat the Sharks 21-14 in a thriller at Kings Park, with 21-year-old flanker Liam Wright pilfering the ball after the final siren to ensure the win.
One of seven players in the pack aged between 20-22, Wright is among the faces of the Reds' future and stepped up to help Queensland shoot to second place on the Australian conference ladder - at least until Saturday night.
Tries: van Vuuren, D du Preez
Cons: R du Preez, Bosch
Tries: Hegarty, Feauai-Sautia, McDermott
Cons: Hegarty 2, Stewart
HIGHLANDERS vs BLUES
A second-half penalty try has helped lift the Highlanders to a 24-12 Super Rugby win over the Blues and avenge the latter's victory in their first meeting a month ago.
The Blues' 33-26 defeat of the Highlanders in round six was, and remains, their first and only win over a New Zealand opponent in three years.
Their subsequent match in the New Zealand conference resulted in a narrow loss to the Hamilton-based Chiefs.
Buoyed by wins over Australia's Waratahs and South Africa's Stormers, the Blues entered Saturday's match as favourites but the Highlanders' strong second half called into question their touted revival.
Tries: Frizell, Penalty, Faddes
Cons: J Ioane 2
Pens: J Ioane
Tries: Robinson, Nanai
WARATAHS vs REBELS
With a big win in a critical derby game, and with oddly rare victories in milestone games for Michael Hooper and Jed Holloway, the Waratahs had every reason to celebrate after beating the Rebels at the SCG.
But Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson revealed the NSW dressing shed had been “really subdued” after an emotional week handling - and ultimately overcoming - the tumultuous departure of Israel Folau from their ranks.
The Rebels held a 20-7 lead at halftime after dominating the opening 40 minutes but a combination of the Melburnians’ ill-discipline and step-up performances from Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale saw the Waratahs slowly but surely claw their way back.
Tries: Ashley-Cooper, Foley
Cons: Foley 2
Pens: Foley 3
Tries: Meakes, Hodge
Cons: Cooper 2
Pens: Cooper, Hodge
STORMERS vs BRUMBIES
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has praised his team's "brave" effort in a 19-17 win over the Stormers in Cape Town.
The Brumbies made a massive 226 tackles to the Stormers' 85 for the match and it was that defensive grit which helped them clinch a critical win on the road.
"I don't think I've ever been prouder of a group of men.," he said post-match.
"We had very few chances and the ones that we did have today, we took.
"You've got to do that away from home.
"Some games you're better off without the ball and just backing your defence and that's how today turned out. Just really brave - across the board, everyone's effort was unbelievable."
Tries: Penalty, Louw
Tries: Samu, Arnold, Banks
Cons: Lealiifano 2